World War 11 Plane Crashes – Cape York

The CONDOR with engines already removed for spare parts due to the serious shortage of parts, as the tide rushes in.

The CONDOR with engines already removed for spare parts due to the serious shortage of parts, as the tide rushes in.

By Michael Musemeci

Big low tides reveal the remnants of an American 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, B24 Liberator, named “The Condor” that still remains today along the golden shorelines of Quintel Beach, south of Lockhart River in Cape York.
Although only the skeleton of such a fierce aircraft that stood some 65 years on, Police from Lockhart River have located the last survivor of that compelling day.
The crew, piloted by a Capt Dale J THORNHILL were returning in their Liberator named “The Condor” (Serial No 41-23824) after a bombing mission from the New Guinea area.
The liberator was attached to the 90th Bombardment Group (now formerly known as the “Jolly Rogers”), which was based at Iron Range at the time. It was returning from its first bombing mission.
Until recently, minimal details have really been known about the events of the Condor, but Ex-Lockhart River Police Station Sergent, Michael Musumeci has located the sole surviving member of the crew, Thomas FETTER, who resides in the USA. Mr Musumeci has been corresponding with him in an attempt to track down the known facts of the event. FETTER, who was the aircrafts bombardier, stated that they had been returning from a bombing mission in December 1942, when there was a temporary fuel belly tank situated in the bomb bay. For some unknown reason the gas (fuel) from the belly tank would not transfer. He further stated that the crew then knew that the aircraft would most likely have to ditch in the ocean. This caused the crew to throw everything they could in the ocean to reduce all the weight.
Only two engines were going when THORNHILL set the aircraft down with a belly landing (wheels up), along Quintel beach.
All members survived the ordeal, and a rescue mission was sent out from a crew based at Iron Range.
All major components had then been removed and utilised for other much needed parts for other B24 Liberators attached to Iron Range.
Today, only little pieces remain of that very lucky escape.